By Los Angeles Region Youth Board Member, Sarah Rios

On January 21st, I attended the International Services Youth Activities Fair, in Pasadena, to learn more about the global humanitarian crises and engage in activities with other high school students who share my passion for wanting to make a difference. The event began early in the morning, and not many of us knew entirely what we would be getting into; but, it didn’t take long for us to realize it was going to be well worth it!

Think of four of your most prized possessions: technology, irreplaceable mementos, photographs, and even your loved ones. Now imagine losing them forever, in just the blink of an eye!

That was what each of us had to face at the fair, in a game called, Losing Prized Possessions. The players were blindfolded and released onto a “minefield” of plastic bottles that represented explosives. Simultaneously, they were being pursued by two “border guards.” Getting caught or making a wrong step meant losing something close to you. Of course, this was only a game to us, but for too many refugees around the world, it is an unfortunate reality.

Only a few days earlier, my English class at school was discussing the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Our teacher gave us the basic facts, like how nearly 5 million Syrians are refugees. All of us knew this was a terrible humanitarian crisis that affected millions of people, but, for me, it didn’t actually feel “real” until I attended this event. Getting the chance to stand in the shoes of someone less fortunate for a day showed me what these people are actually going through. It was very powerful.

Empathizing with those affected by the world’s refugee crisis has made me much more eager to make a difference in the world. The Monday following the fair, I began to spread the word about the current refugee wish list drive being conducted by the Red Cross. I also talked to my class about the experience that I had at the youth activities event. It was easy to discuss and I could even answer my classmate’s questions as after attending the event, I knew so much more information about humanitarian issues all around the world.

Most high school students don’t get the chance to speak out about global issues. However, people can make a difference and help others at any age, and it’s important to continue educate young leaders about ways they too can help bring about change.


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